by Rev. Diane Weible
Sitting at my sister’s bedside for over a week while her body grew weaker and weaker, I was reminded of two things: 1. I can ask all I want how this could have happened to my otherwise healthy sister and that wouldn’t change anything and 2. The Spirit is strong—much stronger than the frailty of the human body.
She passed peacefully on Monday and her funeral will be at the end of this week. Funerals are a chance for us who are still living to celebrate her life and support one another in our grief.
Grief is hard. Grief is painful. Grief doesn’t make sense. Throughout the ten days that my family had gathered around her bedside we were a mix of emotions—one minute we were fighting back tears because we didn’t want to leave the room nor did we want to break down sobbing in front of her and the next minute we were laughing so hard we couldn’t stop—laughing at a memory or even over something silly. Grief is a necessary part of letting go. We have to go through it. It’s part of the journey.
There were many things this past week that supported me and my family in this sacred journey. Two of them I will share with you now. One was a phrase someone sent me on Ash Wednesday saying they preferred these words: “From dust you came; with God you will go.”
The second was a Henry Van Dyke poem called “Gone From My Sight”:
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side, spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast, hull and spar as she was when she left my side. And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me — not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”
And that is dying…